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Friday, October 08, 2010

How about a refreshingly routine ending to today’s game?

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – There was perhaps a forgotten hero in LSU’s 16-14 win over Tennessee last week.

His name is Ted Stickles, who is LSU’s game management guru emeritus. Game management as in game administration from a security and crowd control standpoint … not from the game and play clock standpoint that the LSU football team so desperately needs.

Stickles, a former LSU swim coach who set world records in the individual medley at Indiana in the early 1960s, has been overseeing LSU games since the 1970s. He retired several years ago, but he can’t stay away from LSU stadia. He’s a quiet LSU fixture with a badge. He was there at Alex Box when storms tore up the outfield fence. He was there at Tiger Stadium when they ran out of water.

And on Saturday, he was right there on the LSU side of the north end zone in Tiger Stadium at the end of perhaps the strangest alternate ending to a game in LSU history. He was there when game officials threw a flag just before what looked like the last play because Tennessee had two too many players on the field. Unbeknownst to a crowd of 92,932, LSU’s last disastrous snap on third and goal from the 1 would not be the last play of the game. The hurried snap with just a few seconds to go that eluded LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson and apparently ended the game with Tennessee going wild and LSU inexplicably not getting a chance to score, would instead be wiped clean by that little yellow flag.

“I went from misery to, ‘There’s a handkerchief in the end zone,” LSU coach Les Miles said. (Many say he’s still miserable, though.) LSU got another play from inside the 1 with no time remaining, and tailback Stevan Ridley scored for the 16-14 win. Without Stickles, though, it might not have happened.

“I was standing at the fence near Gate 5 at about the 10-yard line (near the north end zone),” Stickles said Thursday. “I didn’t see the flag at first. I was watching Tennessee celebrate. Then I saw the flag.”

It was midway between the goal line and the end zone about five yards from the LSU sideline.

“I started to walk up to it, and I saw somebody went to pick it up,” Stickles said. “It was somebody with a media credential. I didn’t recognize him, but that doesn’t mean anything. There are always a lot of people down there. It was a younger guy, but I had no idea who it was. If I saw him again I probably wouldn’t recognize him. But before he picked it up, I said, ‘Hey, let’s leave it there for a minute until we see what’s going on.’ Then I just stood by it.”

Tennessee rocked on at midfield with Vols’ coach Derek Dooley jumping on assistant coaches and anyone he could find. But then he noticed something.

“I just saw this mingling,” Dooley said a few days later. “And something was going on. I knew it.”

The mingling was a huddle of officials.

“No more than about two minutes later, an official came over to pick up the flag, and they made the call at midfield.”

Even if our suspect had lifted it, officials would have still known a flag was thrown. But how would they explain that to Dooley? “Uh, we threw a flag. Just don’t know where it is,” they could have said.

“Thanks Ted,” is what Miles and his team should say.

Hopefully, tonight there will be a more routine ending when No. 9 and No. 12 Florida meet at 6:30 p.m. Here are five things to look for other than a flag for an overpopulated substitution.

1.LSU’S BEST EFFORT – The last time LSU coach Les Miles was a national clock embarrassment just eight games ago at Ole Miss, the Tigers responded with a 33-30 win in overtime over Arkansas with sensible clock management for a game-tying field goal with :04 left. The players have circled the wagons, and Miles may have put a six shooter to offensive coordinator Gary Crowton’s head.

2. JARRETT LEE – He looked like a new quarterback on LSU’s final drive last week. Of course, he looked like the old Lee just a possession before, too, so don’t get your hopes too high. If Crowton is careful with him, though, he could get by with only a couple of interceptions and a lot of completions.

3. STEVAN RIDLEY – If Crowton just calls a running play to the SEC’s leading rusher last week on third-and-goal at the 1, there is no cluster clock controversy of simultaneous substitution stupidity. Aren’t you glad LSU didn’t have to kick the extra point at the end because Tennessee didn’t want to come back out? Surely Crowton would have sent in some extra point pistol formation with seven subs and a reverse just before the snap. Keep it simple, stupid. RUN RIDLEY. PLAY DEFENSE AND SPECIAL TEAMS!

4. PATRICK PETERSON – LSU will need a long punt return to set up or get a score. Florida allowed a 41-yard punt return to Alabama’s Julio Jones last week that helped set up a touchdown for a 17-0 lead in the second quarter of the Tide’s 31-6 win. “He is absolutely the No. 1 concern on our football team right now,” Florida coach Urban Meyer said.

5. GRIT – Florida will just have just a bit more than LSU. The Gators have never lost two straight games under Urban Meyer with the second one at home.

PREDICTION: LSU plays very well, but its defense can’t stop Florida at the end. Gators win 17-13.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do not have a goat,or lam to slaughter...So I can spread the blood above my door,to protect my home.
Les Miles has become the "Angel of Death".
Les Miles is especially dangerous to professionals journalists...You are the first in the line of communication.
What are you going to do, if LSU beats Florida..How are you going to explain such a thing?

8:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think, the LSU fans should ask the LSU football players, if they would like some therapy,living with Les Miles, on a daily bases...Or, maybe a friend, to talk to,so they can keep their sanity- with the rest of our world.
I go to church,and ask god to protect my friends, and me, from (the Madness)..Prayer, seem to help me, to feel better...When I open my eyes now, after sleeping..I realize, that Les Miles coaches LSU.
"Les Miles"
God bless everyone.

3:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guilbeau is just not any good with his 5 things to look for.

4:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A new twist to the Les Miles lore...He does not give a rats ass, about what the LSU fans say about him.
Miles is not very nice4 at all,so far-just very lucky.
The LSU football fans love the LSU football players.
So far the Les Miles (Craziness)can be seen, for what it is,madness.
Winning make the blue sky,bluer..The work day more fun.
So Les Miles is safe for now,what he think about the LSU fans,is a mouthful.

11:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Miles does not know!
Les Miles hears, and sees what he wants..Outside talk, is nothing to him.
What does he care,or so he said.
Miles want to coach, his football players spirit, and heart..The other ability, players have on a football field, in a football game- are just incidental to his teaching.
Sprite,heart,want,that the real reason football players win.
God bless the LSU tigers,they are stuck with a nut.

12:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Yea,right,lets have a refreshingly routine ending, to the Florida football game?"
I am not going to the next game,I will give my LSU ticket, to someone younger...Because my heart can not take it any more.
I will read a book,and ask my wife to tell me the score, from time to time...Until the game is over.
If I had your job...How do you write about the Les Miles effect?

11:17 AM  

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